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Uncover the Pros And Cons Of Water Fasting

10 min read
Last Updated on 23 March, 2024

Water fasting is a type of fasting in which you consume only water without eating anything. The length of this fast can range from 24 hours to several days, depending on a person's overall health. During this fast, no juices nor drinks with liquid calories are permitted. The term is also referred to as a "zero calorie diet."

Some people use water fasting as a spiritual practice. They do so to connect with their inner selves and deepen their connection with the divine.

It is one of the most effective ways to detox and reset your body. It is also one of the simplest and easiest to do. With the help of this blog, you will learn everything about water fasting. So let's begin!

How To Perform Water Fasting?


To perform this, you must first ascertain your suitability for the process. Then, it would be best if you go through a pre-fast evaluation. Prepare your body for the fast. Create a conducive environment. Incorporate key behavioral changes while fasting. Choose when to end the fast and restore your body afterward.

It's recommended to seek advice from a health professional before starting a water fast.

These are the things you need to do before starting a water fast.

1. Find Out If You Qualify For A Water Fast


Although everyone can do a water fast, there are few significant exceptions. According to research, the following people shouldn't undertake this fast.

  • Children: Fasting can have detrimental psychological and physiological effects on children and adolescents. It is because of their higher nutritional needs for growth and development.

  • Old age people: People over 75 should avoid fasting due to the increased risk of problems.

  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women have specific dietary and energy needs. If not met, even temporarily, this might negatively affect the mother and child.

  • People with an active infection: Avoid water fasting if you have an active infection. Also, if you are at risk for reinfection, have an immune system condition, or have any chronic diseases.

  • People with diabetes mellitus: The American Diabetes Association states that diabetes mellitus is a contraindication to fasting. Although proponents of water fasting claim that the method encourages insulin sensitivity, glucose management, and a slight weight reduction. However, the evidence supporting these statements is weak.

  • People with anorexia nervosa: This is not recommended for those with anorexia nervosa or other eating problems.

  • People with contraindications: Contraindications include advanced liver, renal, and cerebrovascular disease.

2. Pre-Fast Medical Assessment


A pre-fasting medical assessment should be carried out. This should incorporate a thorough assessment of your health. It should also review any prescribed medications. Such as steroids, contraceptives, antihypertensives, or anticonvulsants.

3. Get Your Body Ready For The Fast


The next suggested action is to prepare the body if a person qualifies for a water fast. Doctors advise adopting a well-balanced diet of plant-based foods. This contains olive oil, beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and legumes. It is advised to avoid soft drinks, coffee, alcohol, and processed foods that are high in calories.

You might also like: The 9 Best Healthy Foods To Eat Everyday

4. Establish Conditions Favorable To A Water Fast

It is crucial to have a comfortable setting and a lot of either filtered or distilled water available before starting a water fast. It is recommended to consume 3.7 liters of water for men and 2.7 liters for women per day.

5. Include Significant Behavioral Adjustments During The Fast


It is advised to use relaxation techniques like behavioral and lifestyle changes. Such as quick and unstressful physical exercise.

  • Yoga, gymnastics, or aerobic activity should be incorporated into the water fast. It should be done with the intensity modified according to the person's health.

  • The goal of behavioral lifestyle changes is to assist the person fasting in determining the causes of the problems they seek to treat. It also helps boost their motivation to fast and avoid breaks in the fasting schedule.

  • Relaxation techniques will help you keep the fast going. This includes breathing exercises, meditation, and visualization. Doing this will help you reduce any negative consequences of water fasting.

Water may be consumed ad libitum - that is, as much or as frequently as desired or necessary during the fast.

You might also like: Water Challenge: A Step towards a Healthy Lifestyle

6. Choose When To Finish The Fast

The decision to break the fast is quite personal. The choice to break the fast depends on a person's physical and mental health and unique situation. As an alternative, the Expert Panel Update of the 2002 Consensus Guidelines on Fasting Therapy lists the following as medical reasons to stop fasting.

  • Non-compliance or failing to follow the instructions for the fast.

  • The beginning of severe, even fatal, arrhythmias.

  • Digestive and reflux issues.

  • Severe abnormalities in electrolytes.

  • Depression of the circulatory or cardiac system with lowered heart rate and blood pressure.

6. After Fast Period

It's crucial to restart feeding with entire, natural meals right away after the water fast. The benefits of water fasting must be maintained over time by adopting a regular and balanced diet. Also, the right amount of physical exercise will be beneficial.

The entire water fasting procedure is designed to provide a healing environment for the body. It's crucial to keep in mind that monitoring and supervising are required during the fasting process. So as to guarantee effectiveness and safety.

It's important to stay hydrated and drink enough water to prevent dehydration.

What Research Has To Say About Water Fasting?


Intermittent fasting is a possible substitute for prolonged fasting. This entails fasting or consuming extremely few calories for a certain time and then eating normally.

An illustration of this is the 5:2 diet. This means consuming half of one's daily caloric intake on the other two days of the week while eating normally on the other five.

Research comparing intermittent fasting to a steady, low-calorie diet showed that both strategies were equally effective for shedding pounds. It also reduces the chance of developing cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It was discovered that intermittent fasting was just as simple as a low-calorie diet.

Studies on mice and rats have shown that fasting may protect against some illnesses, such as diabetes, and may even slow the aging process. Regularly going without food for brief periods has been linked to lower rates of diabetes. It also includes lower BMI and a lower risk of coronary artery disease in those getting their arteries checked for blockages.

Although research has identified some good effects on blood pressure and body weight from limited trials, there have not been significant human studies on fasting.

For older people, fasting might have negative consequences on immunological function. Thus, people should consult a doctor before sometimes fasting on water.

Pros of Water Fasting

Although this fasting may have certain advantages, it's crucial to remember that there is little study on its safety, with a lot of data pointing instead toward its potential drawbacks.

1. Reduces Consumption Of Salt, Sugar, And Alcohol


It is unclear if the act of fasting itself has beneficial effects. For instance, temporarily reducing your sugar or salt intake could be advantageous. And for people who habitually consume alcohol, abstaining from alcohol for a few days or longer may decrease blood pressure even if no other dietary modifications are made.

2. May Reduce Blood Pressure


Two factors are linked to decreased blood pressure readings: drinking more water and eating less salt. Both of these activities are possible during a water fast, which may assist in controlling blood pressure. Patients with borderline hypertension have proven that medically supervised water fasts can reduce blood pressure.

3. May Increase Cell Recycling

Your cells are degraded and recycled every day. It is believed that this procedure, known as autophagy, may help to avoid cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, there have been too few studies on the connection between water fasting and autophagy in people, to be certain.

4. May Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease


There is not much proof that water fasting may treat cardiac problems. In one research, 30 participants who seemed to be in good health participated in a 24-hour water fast. After the fast, the participants' triglyceride and cholesterol levels—two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease—were lower.

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5. May Help Protect Against Diabetes

According to research, fasting of any kind may enhance insulin sensitivity.

Since insulin resistance is the primary cause of type 2 diabetes, brief water fasts will likely increase insulin sensitivity and lower the chance of developing the disease.

You might also like: Ways around Managing Diabetes

Cons of Water Fasting

While there may be some health benefits of water fasting, there are certain health risks, carrying several disadvantages.

1. Uneasy Stomach


Consuming food after fasting, particularly in larger amounts after prolonged caloric restriction, might make your digestive system queasy and uncomfortable.

2. Potential For Refeeding Syndrome

Refeeding syndrome is a potentially fatal illness that includes rapid metabolic changes and often affects severely malnourished patients. It is more likely to occur in persons who reintroduce food too early after an extended fast.

People with eating problems are more likely to take refeeding syndrome into account. To prevent the refeeding syndrome, some guidelines recommend that calories be reintroduced in therapeutic settings very gradually (using nutritional supplements and increasing by just 10 to 30 calories per day).

3. Might Result In Nutritional Deficits

Nutrient deficiencies are a possibility with any fasting regimen. Limiting caloric intake reduces vital vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and electrolytes. Your body needs these to operate properly.

4. May Result In Dehydration

Even when you drink water while on a water fast, dehydration is still possible. Most individuals get at least 20% of their daily water intake from food. You will drink significantly less water than normal if you don't increase it throughout the fast.

5. Unsafe Variations In Blood Pressure

Hypotension may occur if you consume too much water. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the opposite of hypotension, which is abnormally low blood pressure. Another possibility is orthostatic hypotension. This results in abrupt reductions in blood pressure upon rising.

The symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include lightheadedness and dizziness.

6. Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication, is when only water is used to replace the salt and water lost via sweat.

Exercise shouldn't be done while on a water fast since you lose salt via sweat and can't compensate for it by consuming food or sports drinks.

7. Unable To Engage In Physical Activity

In addition to the risks of hyponatremia, this diet makes it difficult to remain physically active, which is essential for good health. According to certain research, fasting results in lower performance in various fitness-related activities.

8. Nausea, Exhaustion, And Difficulty Concentrating

Extreme calorie restriction can cause symptoms such as lightheadedness, weariness, and mental fog.

Researchers have shown that fasting may damage one's capacity to maintain stability and balance. This may happen even in healthy young women. Your body will struggle to function at its best if you don't ingest the necessary calories.

Water fasting may make concentrating more difficult at work or school. Mild to severe headaches might also result from fasting.

9. Might Result In An Eating Disorder

Binge eating frequently results from fasting, dieting, or calorie restriction in general.

When your water fast is done, you may get the tendency to binge eat. This results because of your compulsive or intrusive thoughts about food that might result from fasting.

Does Water Fasting Aid In Weight Loss?


Water fasting can help you lose weight, much as other forms of fasting. There are several health dangers associated with it, as mentioned above.

Intermittent and alternate-day fasting is likely a more successful strategy than 24 to 72 hours of water fasting. It helps to gain the advantages of fasting while simultaneously wishing to reduce weight.

Since they enable you to eat food, these fasts offer similar health advantages. But maybe adhered to for far longer durations, lowering the danger of nutritional shortages.

A Word From Us

Water fasting is a common practice that may have some health advantages. However, most of the health advantages of water fasting have only been proven in animal research. Hence, people may not experience the same advantages.

Water fasting has several hazards, particularly if you go longer than three days without eating. And also if you have health issues like diabetes or gout.

Try safer practices like intermittent or alternate-day fasting if you want to get the health advantages of fasting. Since you may consume some food during these fasts, they are simpler to maintain over time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ'S)

1. How long can one do a water fast?

The length of a water fast can vary, with some people choosing to fast for a day or two while others fast for several days or weeks. However, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional before starting a fast, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

2. What are the side effects of water fasting?

Common side effects of water fasting include headaches, dizziness, weakness, and irritability. Some people may also experience constipation, bad breath, and body odor. Drinking enough water is important to prevent dehydration and ease any discomfort.

3. Can one exercise while water fasting?

Light exercise, such as stretching or gentle yoga, is generally safe during a water fast. However, it's important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, as fasting can increase the risk of injury and decrease your physical performance.

This article is written by Ritushree R Singh, who is a content writer and marketer at Vantage Circle. Besides having a curious heart with an avid taste for music, she relishes traveling to new places and exploring different cultures whenever possible. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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